July 3, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Commander Accuses Israel of Stealing Iran's Clouds and Causing Drought - Tariq Tahir (Daily Mail-UK)
    Iranian Brig.-Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali has accused Israel of stealing its clouds in order to cause drought in the Islamic Republic.
    "Foreign interference is suspected to have played a role in climate change," said Jalali, who insisted results from an Iranian scientific study "confirm" the claim.
    "Israel and another country in the region have joint teams which work to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain."

Palestinians Say Calling Jerusalem "Israel's Capital" Is Incitement - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinians consider statements such as "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel" and "Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people" as a form of incitement, according to a report Sunday by the PLO Department of Culture and Information.
    The report comes in response to Israeli allegations of anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media, school textbooks, mosque sermons, and public statements by Palestinian officials.

British Air Force Bombed Pro-Assad Forces Last Month - Mark Hookham and Tim Ripley (Sunday Times-UK)
    The British Royal Air Force bombed pro-Syrian regime forces on June 21 after a battle erupted near a British SAS training base, killing a Syrian army officer and wounding seven others.

Answering the Growing Threat of Enemy Drones - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Since at least 2016, Israeli defense companies have been in advanced development of anti-drone measures, mostly using jamming technologies to disrupt an enemy drone's ability to continue receiving instructions from its operators.
    At a demonstration at Mitzpe Ramon, the Skylock anti-drone system began tracking a test attack drone for a couple of kilometers before the drone entered visual range.
    When it was close enough for us to see, Skylock took control and froze the drone in a hovering position.
    Next, it forced the drone to descend on a direct vertical path and land on the ground.
    Skylock's CEO Aviad Matza said the system can detect large drones 8-10 km. away and small drones 3.5 km. away.
    The system can track up to 200 targets simultaneously, jam on over five bandwidths, and destroy drones with its laser at a distance of 800 meters.
    He added that three Asian nations are already deploying the system.

2,000-Year-Old Jars Found Intact in Galilee Cave - Ruth Schuster (Ha'aretz)
    Two large ancient jars and other pottery vessels well over 2,000 years old have been salvaged from a cave on a sheer cliffside in the Galilee near the Lebanese border.
    "The finds seem to date to the Hellenistic period - between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE," said Dr. Danny Syon of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • State Department Outlines U.S. Strategy on Iran
    Brian Hook, Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, said Monday that U.S. strategy "is about changing the behavior of the leadership in Iran to comport with what the Iranian people really want them to do."
        "The first part of our sanctions will snap back on August 4th. These sanctions will include targeting Iran's automotive sector, trade in gold, and other key metals. Our remaining sanctions will snap back on November 6th. These sanctions will include targeting Iran's energy sector and petroleum-related transactions and transactions with the Central Bank of Iran....More than 50 international firms have already announced their intent to leave the Iranian market, particularly in the energy and financial sectors."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Iran Diplomat Arrested over Plot to Attack Iranian Opposition Meeting in France
    An Iranian diplomat has been arrested along with two people suspected of plotting a bomb attack on a meeting outside Paris of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Belgian authorities said on Monday. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper were among those attending the meeting held on Saturday.
        The two suspects in Belgium, Amir S., 38, and Nasimeh N., 33, were intercepted by Belgian police on Saturday with 500 grams of TATP explosive and a detonation device. A diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Vienna who was linked to the case was arrested in Germany. (Reuters-Telegraph-UK)
  • Israeli Border Communities Deal with Palestinian Threats - F. Brinley Bruton and Paul Goldman
    Anxiety has been running high in Israeli communities near the Gaza fence since March 30, when Palestinians started the "Great March of Return" demonstrations. Smoke from burning fields hung in the air as Adele Raemer, a Bronx native who settled in Israel four decades ago, pointed to where a mortar killed two Kibbutz Nirim residents in the last hours of the 2014 war with Gaza. Nearby sits a heavily fortified kindergarten building that does not have windows facing Gaza.
        Raemer said, "The force used by the IDF here on the border prevented thousands of Gazans from walking into Israel. Had that happened, there would have been no choice but to kill many, many Gazans infiltrating, preventing them from entering Israeli communities like my own. The IDF are my son, my son-in-law, my husband and me. It's us. I know these people and I trust them."  (NBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Knesset Approves Law Targeting PA Payments to Terrorists - Gil Hoffman
    Israel's Knesset on Monday voted 87 to 15 to deduct the amount of money that the Palestinian Authority gives to terrorists and their families from taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the authority. MK Elazar Stern, who sponsored the bill, paid tribute to U.S. army captain Taylor Force, who was murdered on the Tel Aviv boardwalk in March 2016, saying that he inspired the law. Stern pointed out that Taylor's father, Stuart Force, was present for the vote. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Sees Abbas as Key Obstacle to Gaza Rehabilitation - Amos Harel
    Israeli security officials see opposition from PA President Mahmoud Abbas as the main obstacle to improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, due to the ongoing tension between the PA and Hamas. Israel needs the PA's cooperation to make improvements to Gaza's infrastructure, such as operating an additional electrical power line. The international community also needs the PA in order to channel aid money to Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Doesn't Expect Mass Border Breaches by Syrians Fleeing Assad Offensive - Judah Ari Gross
    Lt. Col. "A," head of the Israeli army program to provide assistance to southern Syria, said Sunday that he does not expect large numbers of Syrians to attempt to breach the border and seek refuge inside Israel, in response to a renewed offensive by Bashar Assad, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. In the past week, Israeli officials have stated that Israel will not take in Syrian refugees, but will provide humanitarian assistance. Thousands of Syrians have been streaming toward the Israeli border in the past week and a half, setting up camps in villages near the border but not next to the border itself.
        A portion of the humanitarian assistance the Israeli military delivered to Syria was provided by Arab countries, the officer said. The rest was provided by Israeli and American NGOs. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Will the West Cede the Golan Heights to a Psychopath? - Moshe Ya'alon and Yair Lapid
    In 1981 Israel applied its law to the Golan Heights. The Syrians insisted it be returned to them. Historically, the Golan is known as the biblical land of Bashan from the book of Deuteronomy. It is an area with a long and deep Jewish connection. Not a single Palestinian lives in the Golan Heights.
        The Syrians ruled over the Golan Heights for only 21 years (1946-1967). They turned the Golan into a military base, rained rocket fire on the Israeli communities which are below the Golan Heights, and tried to divert Israel's critical water sources to dry the country out.
        In the past seven years, President Assad has massacred over half a million of his own people and used chemical weapons against women and children. It is a dark regime led by a psychopath supported by the most malevolent forces on earth today. Does his monstrous behavior have no cost?
        We call on the U.S. to lead an international process of recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. This will allow the U.S. to extract a price from Assad for his despicable behavior without putting boots on the ground in Syria.
        Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon is a former Israeli defense minister and IDF chief of staff. Yair Lapid, head of the opposition Yesh Atid party, is a former treasury minister. (Times of Israel)
  • Jordanian Journalist Compares Arab, Israeli Prisons
    Jordanian journalist Yousef Alawnah, who spent 30 months in an Israeli prison for smuggling explosives, compared conditions in Israeli prisons to those in the Arab world in an interview on Saudi 24 TV on June 12. It was like being incarcerated in an "institute of education," where inmates were given "an opportunity to acquire culture, to read and to study many things," he said.
        "They have all the important books, history books, books against Israel and against Zionism....The prisoners held in the dungeons of the Syrian regime...do you think that they have books?"
        Alawnah also criticized the Arab world for the widespread violence in the region. "Consider what the Arabs have done to one another. If the Jews occupied Syria or Iraq, would they do all those things? Have the Jews killed as many Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, and others as Iran's militias killed in Mosul or in Aleppo? No."  (Times of Israel-MEMRI)

Sharansky: Help Palestinians Build a Real Democracy - David M. Halbfinger (New York Times)
  • Natan Sharansky, who fought the Soviets from inside a gulag, is retiring as head of the Jewish Agency for Israel at age 70.
  • Sharansky insists that peace could be achieved only between Israel and a legitimately democratic Palestinian Authority - because real democracies do not try to kill one another.
  • While he is quick to acknowledge the suffering of Palestinians, he lays it at the feet of the entire international community. "It is a thousand times more difficult to be a dissident among the Palestinians than among the Soviets," he said. "There, you knew that even if you will be isolated, you are part of a much bigger world of free thought, and this world is with you. Here, who cares?"
  • It is "the free world" that has cynically allowed Palestinian leaders to keep their people in refugee camps for generations and, of late, to send Gaza residents to be shot by Israeli soldiers along the fence.
  • "And Palestinians will suffer again, and again, and again until the free world will say, 'Enough'," and "stop dealing with these corrupt dictators," save up the money for a future Marshall Plan and instead start helping Palestinians build a real democracy.
  • He notes that every human being craves both freedom and a sense of belonging, and that freedom cannot be imposed, but must be built from the ground up.